|curators' statement||february 2007 selection|
y o u d a r k n e s s
c u r a t o r s :  b r u c e h a c k n e y & t i m s m i t h
The words of Rainer Maria Rilke were the inspiration for the selection of works in this Web Gallery.
You darkness, that I come from,
From "A Book for the Hours of Prayer" (Das Stundenbuch)
All of us living with HIV (in Tim's case more than 25 years) have relied from time to time and to some extent on faith in the unknown, in the allure of mystery, and on an acceptance that some greater power commands fate and destiny. It is a private place, deep and shrouded. Within this space, the nature of both hope and despair exists. We cannot know what inspired these artists to produce these particular works, but in their making we feel and see the great energy about which Rilke writes, never really sure whether it is hope or despair we sense -- though the energy is unmistakable.
Amos Beaida, a true outsider, is a self-taught artist who lives in a small town in Idaho where he has worked as a waiter and a truck driver. "I just sat down one day and started to draw and this is what came out," he says. Beaida is losing his sight, but continues to draw on small, 8 x 10 sheets of paper.
Stephen Andrews was born in 1956 in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. He has exhibited his work in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Scotland, France, India and Japan. He is represented in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, as well as many private collections.
Michael Borosky is an artist and graphic designer and publisher of little "Sissy" mini-mag.
Tim Greathouse was a leading figure of the East Village art scene of the 1980s. He died in 1998 at age 48 from AIDS-related complications. Greathouse first showed his own photographs, many documenting life on the Lower East Side, at Gracie Mansion Gallery in 1982 and soon afterward published ''Who's Who in Lower Manhattan,'' a book of portraits of art world personalities. He opened his own gallery, Oggi Domani, in a storefront on East 11th Street in 1984. In 1986 he moved to a larger space nearby, renamed the gallery T. Greathouse and showed paintings, sculpture and conceptual art there as well as photography. Artists to whom he gave first or early shows include Kathe Burkhart, Anne Messner, Andrew Masullo, Zoe Leonard, Peter Hujar, Jimmy de Sana and Hope Sandrow.
Sunil Gupta was born in New Delhi in 1953, where he lived until his family moved to Montreal in the late 1960s. His education brought him to New York, where he studied art, and then London, where he received his MA, and where he still resides. Since the early 1980s, Gupta has continued to delve into projects that are self-referential by nature, but universal in their outcome. Beyond his diverse cultural influences, his work has dealt with a number of issues surrounding homosexuality, particularly the personal and social implications in both Eastern and Western societies. When he was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1995, he chose not to allow his medical condition to become the single governing factor in his work, however it has gradually became an important informant.
Ferenc Suto was born in 1960 in Easton, Connecticut. In the darkroom he breaks the rules, disregards limitations, and makes visible internal pain and a cacophony of dark emotions. By covering his negatives with caustic bleach that seems not so much applied as thrown, he creates aggressive, abstract patterns of bruises and stains that infuse his portraits with layers of anger and raw emotion. Unable to arrest the bleaching process once it has started, the artist has just enough time to make one unique print before the image is lost. In Suto's work, the beauty of the body is overcome with a dark cloud of suffering and distress. According to the artist, "These photographs are about exploring the dark side of ourselves and human relationships."
Hunter Reynolds is an AIDS activist and visual and performance artist who was one of the founding members of ACT UP and ART-Positive. He has performed extensively nationally and internationally in the Patina du Prey's Memorial Dress. He lives and works in Brooklyn and is represented by Mary Goldman Gallery, Los Angeles.
Artist and illustrator Michael Mitchell lives and works in New York. Several works in the Visual AIDS archive are from "Performance Painting: The Portraits," done on site at the Lure, a New York leather bar, and were designed as an opportunity for artists and viewer to connect in a more inclusive way.
Ali lives and works in Miami. He exhibits nationally. Well known for his erotic nudes, Ali's work is often featured in both local and national publications, covering a broad spectrum in the photography field from commercial to fine art.
Steven Henning Wolf lives and works in Norfolk, Virginia. "What I am interested in doing is creating a world of wit and myth -- a world co-existing in dualism with the real one, sometimes dubiously and inappropriately, but nonetheless there. Furthermore, I feel that to aim social satire and irony in a just and pertinent way, I should make myself partly the brunt of it. As a gay man, I need to include myself in the stories; insert my fragile ego into the dioramas via the metaphor of the naked men for example. I am represented by these characters, and share/participate in their indulgent weaknesses and the sometimes awkwardly vulnerable parts they play."
b i o g r a p h y
Bruce Hackney, 43, has worked in the contemporary art world for the past 18 years. He recently joined Yvon Lambert in New York as a director. Previously, he was a director at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery and McKee Gallery, both in New York. Privately, he represents the estate of Swiss photographer Karlheinz Weinberger in the United States and is an independent curator. Most recently, he co-curated a show with Anna Kustera entitled "i drank the kool-aid: The Experiment Requires That You Continue" at her gallery in Chelsea.
Tim Smith, 48, is the administrative manager of Lisa Ruyter's studio. Prior to that, he was managing director of The Armory Show, one of the world's leading contemporary art fairs. HIV-positive for more than 25 years, he was involved in the early days of both GMHC and ACT UP.
Together for six years, they live and work in Chelsea.